Thomas Eastham believes it is important to treat people as sweet as the honey he sells.
The 82-year-old has sold honey and pecans at a stand close to KFC alongside Muskogee Avenue for 17 years, and he does it because he loves to connect with people.
“An old man needs something to do,” he said.
He acquires his nuts out of town, and he sells them cracked or whole. Customers come back because they love to support him, as he has supported the community.
Eastham is also a co-owner of Falcon Floats, which he has operated for decades. He has spent his career serving people and listening to their needs.
Over the years, he has met a lot of people. Helping others put smiles on their faces brings him joy.
“You meet a lot of good people,” he said, referring to his businesses. “I wait on people. That’s all I’ve ever done. Float trips – I took people, in the river, come back, and got another load. We did the same thing over and over. I did that for some years, and I’m still doing it.”
Float operators serve an important role in the Tahlequah economy because they bring outside business into the community, as people come to the Illinois River from throughout the region.
However, Eastham has not forgotten it is also important to serve the community in which he lives.
On Thursdays, Falcon Floats runs a special that makes it cheaper for local residents to float down the river, and when the occasion presents itself, he is also selling nuts and honey.
“People come here for good nuts. We have good pecans. I don’t sell bad pecans. I won’t even consider selling a bad pecan. Customers eat them quickly. I see them. When I sack them, I see them, and I know whether they are good or bad. Every now and then, we’ll get a bad batch. You know what I do? I’ll take them back,” he said.
Eastham hopes to continue inspiring others by sharing his stories, thoughts, and experiences. He is happy to serve others because he knows communities are as strong as how individuals connect with one another.